until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Red Bull makes easy work of Saudi Arabian GP

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Red Bull dominated Formula 1’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as reigning world champion Max Verstappen led home Sergio Perez by 13.6 seconds for a comfortable one-two finish. 

Given he’s generally the weaker of the two drivers in the team, Perez is probably the best barometer of the baseline pace of Red Bull’s 2024 F1 car.

He DRS’d his way past Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and Lando Norris’s McLaren to get himself up into second place, and made it look easy.

By that stage, Verstappen had about five seconds over his team-mate, and always had a crucial couple of tenths in hand whenever Perez upped his pace in pursuit.

In the middle of the race, the Red Bulls were capable of running a second per lap quicker than the Ferraris, McLarens, Mercedes and Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin. They simply checked out.


All but four cars made pitstops under an early safety car called after Lance Stroll clipped the inside barrier and crashed heavily at Turn 22 on lap six of 50.

Norris’s McLaren and Hamilton’s Mercedes were the two ‘frontrunning’ cars that stayed out, their teams electing not to risk the so-called double-stack pitstop.

Perez was actually penalised five seconds for Red Bull releasing him into Alonso’s path during this phase, but remained comfortably far enough ahead of Leclerc to render it moot, despite Leclerc setting the fastest lap of the race near the end in pursuit. The Ferrari fell just under 5s short.

That strategy offset allowed Norris to lead the race for a time, and Hamilton to be a roadblock to the other McLaren of Oscar Piastri.

The McLaren was faster through the high-speed corners; the Mercedes faster on the straights - which created a stalemate.

Both Norris - who survived an investigation for a jumped start after lurching forward in his grid slot while the red lights were on - and Hamilton eventually made for the pits and fitted soft tyres, but being forced to make these stops under racing conditions meant theirs became a private race for eighth place - which Norris won thanks to being able to utilise that McLaren advantage in the high-speed corners.

Freed from the slipstream and robust defending of Hamilton’s Mercedes - at one stage McLaren accused Hamilton of moving in the braking zone for Turn 1 as Piastri twice left the track - Piastri finished a comfortable fourth, with Alonso holding off the other Mercedes of George Russell to finish fifth.

As in Bahrain, Alonso’s qualifying form appeared to flatter Aston Martin, but his race was also stronger this time.


Ollie Bearman finished seventh on his Formula 1 debut for Ferrari.

After the late call to replace Carlos Sainz ahead of final practice, so Sainz could undergo surgery for appendicitis, Bearman produced an extremely assured race performance.

Starting 11th, Bearman pulled decisive early moves on Yuki Tsunoda’s RB (at the safety car restart) and Zhou Guanyu’s Sauber (artificially high up on account of not pitting under the safety car) - and eventually managed to overtake Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas too.

Once into clean air in the middle of the race, Bearman showed he could match the pace of the cars ahead (save for the Red Bulls) and also managed to comfortably hold off the charging Norris and Hamilton at the end.


Stroll’s crash left the door open to one of the tier-three 2024 cars to score a point, and that point went to Hulkenberg’s Haas.

His was the other of the four cars not to stop for tyres under the safety car, but thanks to team-mate Kevin Magnussen sacrificing his own race to be a roadblock to the rest of the midfield, Hulkenberg was able to hang on to that track position despite being forced to make his own pitstop under racing conditions.

Magnussen was twice penalised 10 seconds - for veering into Alex Albon’s Williams while defending position and then leaving the circuit when passing Tsunoda’s RB - but this being a comfortable one-stop race allowed him to delay the pain of those penalties until the chequered flag.

Magnussen’s controversial driving and Haas’s tactics will have irritated their rivals, but those tactics worked to perfection in securing Haas its first world championship point of the season.

Magnussen’s penalties promoted Albon to 11th.

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